What's a credit report?
A credit report is a record of your credit history – your credit enquiries, borrowings and your repayments. The report will include information about any bankruptcies or other relevant legal judgements. It will also include biographical information such as your address, date of birth, driver’s licence number and employment history.
You can find out what your credit history is like by accessing what’s known as your credit rating or credit score.
Credit reporting bodies like Equifax, Dun & Bradstreet, Experian and the Tasmanian Collection Service will give you a free credit report once a year. You can also get a free report if you’ve been refused credit in the past 90 days.
Credit reporting bodies have up to 10 days to provide reports. If you want to access your report quickly, you’ll probably have to pay.
Most negative events that appear on a personal’s credit file will stay in their credit history for up to seven years.
You may be able to improve your credit score by correcting errors in your credit report, clearing outstanding debts, and maintaining good financial habits over time.
Your credit score will improve if you demonstrate that you’ve become more credit-worthy. You can do that by minimising credit applications, clearing up defaults and paying bills on time.
Another tip is to get the one free credit report you’re entitled to each year – that way, you’ll be able to identify and fix any errors.
If you want to fix an error, the first thing you should do is speak with the credit reporting body, which make take of the problem or contact credit providers on your behalf.
The next step would be to contact your credit provider. If that doesn’t work, you can refer the matter to the credit provider’s independent dispute resolution scheme, which would be the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).
AFCA provides consumers and small businesses with fair, free and independent dispute resolution for financial complaints.
If that doesn’t work, your final options are to contact the Privacy Commissioner and then the Office of the Information Commissioner.
Comprehensive credit reporting may change your credit score – either positively or negatively.
Under comprehensive credit reporting, credit providers will share more information about how you and other Australians manage credit products. That means credit reporting bureaus will be able to make a more thorough assessment of everyone’s credit behaviour. For some consumers, that will lead to higher scores; for others, lower scores.